Car-Vid Classics: 2009 Chevy versus 1959 Chevy

Damien O’Carroll
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Back in 2009 the Institute for Highway Safety in the USA celebrated its 50th anniversary. But instead of just having a birthday cake like you normally would, the road safety organisation chose to do something rather different - crash a then-new 2009 Chevrolet Malibu into a car 50 years older, a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air.

The results were both illuminating and horrifying.

The video effectively demonstrates just how far car safety had advanced in the 50 years between the two cars, effectively eliminating the "new cars fold up like tinfoil and will come off worse in a crash" line rolled out by people who don't actually understand how cars crash.

While both appear to take a suitable large amount of damage on the outside, its not until the view switches to the inside that things get really interesting.

The interior of the Malibu barely deforms as the airbags go off and the test dummy faceplants into their white, pillowy embrace. Meanwhile, over in the '59 Bel Air, the test dummy is brutally sandwiched between the dashboard (and firewall... and engine...) and the front seat as everything forward of the A pillar is pushed violently back into the cabin.

Modern cars just fold up like tinfoil? Yeah, they are supposed to do that - they're called crumple zones and they will save your life. Simple as that.


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